Last week when I broke down Mike Malott, who got an easy win last week, I talked about how Malott was a name.
Dana White’s Contender Series is about names, and two of the biggest in the international flyweight division will face off tonight as English prospect Jake Hadley (7-0) goes toe-to-toe with American TUF 29 veteran Mitch Raposo.
These two guys, in terms of their paths to the UFC, are kind of opposites.
For those who have followed Hadley on social media, his recent posting have nearly always been about getting his chance in the UFC.
He’s the Cage Warriors flyweight champ and has fought in Bellator, but he’s always been hellbent on getting his shot in the UFC.
He opened a recent interview with MMAJunkie that he is doing everything he can to get a shot in the UFC.
“I’ve obviously been a bit sad lately with these cancellations,” Hadley told MMAJunkie.com. Trying to get a fight since the Dana White Contender Series cancellation. I’ve tried to get a fight here in the UK.”
He said he got all his paperwork done on time to get the visa done to get to the U.S., too.
Now that is all done and he gets that shot and against a prospect that is coming from the opposite side of the opportunity spectrum.
Raposo, who fights out of Fall River, MA, got his first UFC chance on The Ultimate Fighter 29, when he was one of the bantamweight contestants.
He lost in the TUF house to a more experienced 31-year old Liudvik Sholinian by unanimous decision.
“It’s a similar fight to Liudvik,” Raposo told James Lynch on All Access MMA. “It’s at flyweight too. Liudvik is a lot bigger than me. I know if I fought him again, I beat that kid nine times out of ten. That was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It’s experience in grappling. Those are the things Liudvik was good at. I feel like it’s similar to Jake. Jake’s more jiu jitsu. It’s going to be similar to that. He’s got good stand up. He’s tight and fundamental.
“I feel like I’m going to be one step ahead. I’m going to be too dynamic. I’m just a little bit better everywhere.”
Raposo has a well-rounded skill set, but is still only 22 years old and didn’t fight anyone with a record over .500 in Cage Titans. He beat Matt Almy (4-3) in his only CES fight before leaving for TUF.
If anything, the Sholinian fight indicated that he wasn’t quite ready for the UFC yet, and he’s still super young.
The advantage for Raposo is that he is going back to his natural weight class — flyweight — after several fights and spending the TUF season at bantamweight. For his size, Raposo is probably better off at 125 even though he hasn’t fought at that weight since he was 19, according to his interview with James Lynch.
Hadley’s a guy that’s good everywhere. He has a five finishes in seven pro fights.
In his fight with Adrian Molenda and Molenda tried to take him down. Molenda pushed him against the cage, but Hadley reversed it and pushed him against the cage, took him down and quickly got into mount.
Hadley pounded Molenda from mount until Molenda gave his back and Hadley submitted him.
In his most recent fight for the Cage Warriors flyweight title, he beat Luke Shanks 50-42 and was utterly dominant.
Hadley finally gets his chance against Raposo, who will have his second chance this year.
Hadley is looking to show Dana White and the U.S. audience what he is capable of, while Raposo is hoping to show that the setback to Sholinian was a one-in-10 occurrence.
“I’m just ready to go out there and get some redemption,” Raposo told Lynch. I’m ready to put on a show.”